Song of Kali

Kolkata on the Hooghly

Kolkata on the Hooghly (Photo credit: seaview99)

Song of Kali by Dan Simmons is his first book. The genre is horror rather than science fiction and most of it is set in the slums of Calcutta. Comparable books would be The City of Joy by Dominique Lapierre also set in Calcutta and Shantaram by Gregory Roberts set in Bombay. Of the three accounts of life in the slums of big-city India, the Calcutta of Song of Kali is the most horrific, being a fictional account. I have never visited India, and I expect that I never will. In my life’s travels, the closest I ever came to a third world experience of poverty was in Fiji. I prefer my Western comforts in uncrowded places. I am embarrassed to be relatively wealthy when everyone around me is poorer. I could not be comfortable in the US as a member of the 1%.

Song of Kali was a difficult read for me. There is a respite at the end as husband and wife find a new life in a small Colorado town. Simmons was born in 1948 in Peoria, Illinois, and apparently he spent part of his youth growing up in Chicago. I have found Chicago references in several of his books as well as actual and fictional references to other places in Illinois. I too grew up in the Chicago metropolitan area.

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